February 07, 2018

I'm spending a good chunk of this week traveling to various Silicon Valley tech companies along with Axios co-founders Mike Allen, Roy Schwartz and Jim VandeHei, who are in town. Wave hi if you see us.

How dating sites spy on you

Data: Ghostery; Note: Pre-registration includes homepage and registration pages. Post-registration includes onboarding and profile/search pages. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Handing over your personal data is now often the cost of romance, as online dating services and apps vacuum up information about their users’ lifestyle and preferences, Axios' David McCabe reports.

Why it matters: Dating app users provide sensitive information like drug usage habits and sexual preferences in hopes of finding a romantic match. How online dating services use and share that data worries users, according to an Axios-SurveyMonkey poll, but the services nonetheless have become a central part of the modern social scene.

What they know:

  • Everything you put on your profile, including drug use and health status. Web trackers like Hotjar can examine your behavior on a page and how you answer key personal questions.
  • Every time you swipe right or click on a profile. “These can be very revealing things about someone, everything from what your kinks are to what your favorite foods are to what sort of associations you might be a part of or what communities you affiliate with,” says Shahid Buttar, director of grassroots advocacy for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
  • How you're talking to other people. This includes information about your conversations with matches.
  • Where you are. Location data is a core part of apps like Tinder.

What they say : A spokesperson for Match Group said in a statement said that data collected by its companies "enables us to make product improvements, deliver relevant advertisements and continually innovate and optimize the user experience" and that "data collected by ad trackers and third parties is 100% anonymized."

Go deeper: David has much more on the issue here and read more about our Axios-SurveyMonkey poll here.

SpaceX's big rocket launch was a big hit

The Falcon Heavy, with a Tesla onboard, launches into space on Tuesday. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX's successful launch of its larger Falcon Heavy rocket proved two things, even if one booster didn't land exactly where it was supposed to and the Tesla overshot its planned Mars orbit.

1. The company has the capability to handle bigger and more complex missions.

2. Rocket launches are still super fun (and big ones even more so).

  • The webcast made for captivating viewing, from blast-off through the exciting synchronous landing of two of the rockets all the way to sending a Tesla into orbit.
  • It was also YouTube's second-most popular live stream ever, generating more than 2.3 million concurrent views.

Next up: An even bigger rocket, dubbed BFR, is designed to take humans around the planet and eventually beyond. Eventually set to be SpaceX's workhorse, it's due to arrive in the 2020s.

Dig deeper: For more on why the launch is a big deal, check out this Axios video.

Uber gets pushed in court and in Congress

In court Tuesday, Uber tried to push back against the notion that it was stealing Waymo's self-driving car tech, though ex-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick did admit on the stand later in the day that he wanted to catch up to Google, which he saw as the leader in the industry.  

Meanwhile, across the country, Senators took aim at Uber over its handling of a 2016 data breach.

  • The fact that it took years to notify the public "raises red flags in this committee," Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran says.

Uber admits it was in the wrong: Uber chief information security officer John Flynn acknowledges that not notifying users was a mistake:

"There is no justification for that. We should have notified consumers…We did not have the right people in the room."

Take Note

On Tap

  • Earnings reports include IAC, Limelight Networks and Yelp.
  • The Uber-Waymo trial continues in San Francisco.
  • Common Sense's "Truth About Tech" conference (not, as we wrongly called it yesterday, "Truth In Tech") runs all day in D.C. and features a number of lawmakers.
  • Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is speaking at The Economic Club of New York at lunchtime.

Trading Places


  • Snapchat's parent company beat expectations for the first time as a public company, sending shares soaring. Axios' Sara Fischer has more analysis here.
  • ESPN says its forthcoming over-the-top digital subscription service, ESPN Plus, will cost $4.99 per month and include programming not found on its traditional networks.
  • Facebook had an internal pollster whose job it was to keep track of CEO Mark Zuckerberg's approval rating, according to The Verge. Not sure if or what it says about Zuck's likability, but Tavis McGinn quit the job after six months.
  • Netgear is looking to spinoff its Arlo security camera business into a separate public company, TechCrunch writes.

After you Login

The spouse of a world champion won a regional sports championship on Sunday. That's perspective.